Question: What happens in a guardianship or conservatorship?
Answer: The formal requirements for the appointment of a guardian or conservator will vary among the states, but generally speaking, the process is handled by a probate court or circuit court. In many situations, the court will appoint a close relative, but there is no guarantee that the person appointed is someone who the incapacitated person would have chosen if they could voice their opinion.
Once a guardian has been appointed, the court authorizes and supervises the decisions of the decision-maker on behalf of the incapacitated person. The person acting as guardian will often employ the services of an attorney to file court documents to enable the guardian to sell assets, expend funds for the beneficiary’s needs and file accountings with the court.
Since legal and accounting fees are typically paid from the guardian account (i.e., assets), there is obviously a cost. If it can be avoided, this is generally a good idea.
Comment: An unplanned disability will most certainly involve costs, time, and other frustrations for the family. It is a good idea to plan for this contingency.
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